Bushiris hold Malawian diplomatic passports, court hears as State opposes bail

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Prophet Shephard Bushiri appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
Prophet Shephard Bushiri appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
Frennie Shivambu, Gallo Images
  • The Bushiris and their co-accused in the fraud and money laundering case appeared in court on Friday.
  • The State was opposing bail for all five accused in the matter who it said posed "an extreme flight risk".
  • The court also heard that Bushiri and his wife  held Malawian diplomatic passports.

Self-proclaimed "prophet" Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary hold Malawian diplomatic passports, the Pretoria Central Magistrate's Court heard on Friday.

This was revealed by the State during the formal bail application of all five accused in their fraud and money laundering case worth R102 million.

"Both accused four [Bushiri] and five [Mary Bushiri] hold diplomatic Malawian passports. The accused are not accredited diplomats and they do not qualify for diplomatic immunity," the State said.

This came after the Bushiris and their co-accused Landiwe Ntlokwana as well as Zethu Mudolo and Willie Mudolo appeared in the court for the continuation of their bail application.

The accused faced charges of fraud, theft and money laundering relating to an investment scheme worth R102 million.

READ | Self-proclaimed prophet Bushiri and co-accused to spend a few more nights in custody

The Bushiris and Ntlokwana were arrested on Tuesday, 20 October 2020, while the Mudolos were arrested on 17 October by the Hawks.

The accused had been in custody since then, but the State was opposing bail on various grounds for all the accused.

The court heard earlier from the State that, among other things, the Bushiris held diplomatic Malawian passports; that their status in South Africa was currently under investigation by Home Affairs, and that the pair misled the court about their "living arrangement" in South Africa.

"The statement that they live in a normal family setting in South Africa is not true. The children travel to and from South Africa for school holidays - they are listed in schools in Malawi and their support structure is there," the State argued.

READ HERE | Hope for Bushiri victims: 'He will be exposed'

With respect to accused one in the matter, Willie Mudolo, the State told the court that the accused attempted to flee the country on three occasions prior to his arrest at OR Tambo International Airport.

The State further told the court that it could not verify the fixed address of Ntlokwana and that she was still in possession of her passport.

"With the limited resources available, it would be difficult to enforce bail conditions. All accused pose an extreme flight risk," the State said.

ALSO READ | Bushiris are definitely in SA illegally - home affairs minister

In addition, the State argued that the release of the accused could disturb public peace as members of the public were divided on this matter, and that it could lead to the intimidation of witnesses, who were known to the accused.

Bushiri - in a supplementary affidavit before the court - said that all his passsports have been handed over.

He further confirmed that he and his wife hold diplomatic passports from Malawi but it was also handed over to the Hawks investigative team.

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